A 50 year journey

By Lisa McLean and Kelly Daynard

The Heeman family

The Heeman family

London – It’s been a long journey from their homeland in Holland to a successful three-generation family farming business in London for the Heemans.

That journey started more than 50 years ago for Bill and Susan Heeman. Bill said that he was looking for new opportunities. “I was in love. I wanted to get married,” he recalls with a smile. Both Bill and Susan had family that had already moved to Canada so when a recruiter offered to sell them tickets to Canada, they decided that the time was right. Continue reading

Young couple excited by the challenge of farming

By Melanie Epp

Sarah Biancucci and Vince Tkaczuk

Sarah Biancucci and Vince Tkaczuk

Vince Tkaczuk and Sarah Biancucci are the proud new owners of a small, seven-acre farm south of Mount Forest. They bought the property in June of 2013, and in the process moved one step closer to realizing their dream of becoming farmers. The two have big plans for the property they’re now calling Bell’s Edge Farm.

As their slogan, ‘Innovation and Cultivation,’ says, the goal is to farm intensively, but as sustainably as possible. Starting a new farm from nothing comes with its challenges but as the couple’s story shows, determination and drive prevails. Continue reading

Ontario Agriculture Week is here

Ontario Agriculture Week occurs annually during the week leading up to Thanksgiving.  Here is an infographic showing some of the ways agriculture is important in Ontario.  Why not celebrate Ontario’s farmers this week and every week by looking for local foods and products, and joining the conversation at #loveontfood? Continue reading

Innovative school programs bring food and farming to Toronto students

By Lilian Schaer

James Davis and Jan Main in front of Dan’s Table on the Eastdale rooftop

Toronto’s South Riverdale neighbourhood – also known as Leslieville/Riverside – isn’t one usually associated with farming and food production.

However, Eastdale Collegiate, a small, inner city high school near Broadview and Gerrard, is changing that. An innovative approach combining a culinary program with a rooftop garden is teaching students where their food comes from, building life skills, and instilling healthy eating habits. Continue reading

Environmental focus key to Beverly Greenhouses

Biological pest controls and heat produced from waste wood chips

By Melanie Epp

Dale (left) and Jan VanderHout in their cucumber greenhouse near Dundas

From the outside, Beverly Greenhouses appears to be a modest operation. It’s not, though. With over 20 acres of greenhouses onsite, it is one of Ontario’s larger greenhouse cucumber operations. Third generation farmers and brothers Dale and Jan VanderHouts’ Dundas-based business is unique for a couple of reasons. First of all, they use tenable practices, like biological pest control and heat production using chips made from wasted wood. Secondly, they use what macroeconomists call a vertical integration strategy, which means they strive to control all levels of the supply chain, from growing to packing. Continue reading

Innovative collaboration drives greenhouse project

By Blair Andrews, Farm & Food Care

Greg Devries, president of Truly Green Farms, displays tomatoes-on-the-vine being grown in the company’s greenhouse in Chatham.

Greg Devries, a farmer from Chatham-Kent, is hoping to use innovation and a unique partnership to redefine the greenhouse vegetable industry. If successful, his efforts could also get people to think about tomatoes in a “greener” way.

Devries is the president of Truly Green Farms, a company that is gradually building a 90-acre greenhouse complex across the road from the GreenField Ethanol plant in Chatham.

In a first for North America, the greenhouse operation will be using carbon dioxide (CO2) and low-grade, waste heat from the ethanol plant to help grow the tomatoes. The concept is to take a greenhouse gas like CO2 that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere, and use it to produce a healthy food product. Continue reading

Delivering flavours of the season to customers

By Jeanine Moyer

Braeside – Freshness and flavour are just a few reasons consumers purchase local Ontario produce. And for customers of McGregor’s Produce, they can add quality and taste to that list too because the McGregor family has built their business and reputation on those two traits.

“We only sell what we grow when it’s in season, and we won’t compromise on taste, quality or flavour,” says Ian McGregor of McGregor’s Produce, a multi-generation family produce farm located in Braeside, ON. The family grows strawberries, green and yellow beans, sweet corn, tomatoes and raspberries. Everything grown on the farm is sold directly to consumers through farm markets and roadside stands throughout the Ottawa Valley region.

Cam and Ian McGregor of McGregor’s Produce

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Ontario farmers access markets for vegetables not native to Ontario

Locally grown, less locally known

By Lisa McLean

Holland Landing – Rex and Carol Sugrim, like many Ontario farm families, can trace their agricultural roots back several generations. However, unlike many Ontario farm families, their agricultural roots originated a continent away – in their native South America, where they were raised on farms that grew a mix of vegetables, including okra, bitter melon, squash and spinach.

Rex and Carol Sugrim

Today, the Sugrims grow some of the vegetables from their youth alongside more traditional local fare near Bradford Ontario. Their farm is located on some of the most productive soil in Canada, in the region known as Ontario’s Holland Marsh. The marsh’s fertile “mucklands” have proven a good location to grow more exotic crops such as anise, purple kale, rainbow carrots, eggplant, okra and collard greens. The couple also grows lettuce, dandelion, radishes, sweet peppers, swiss chard and spinach, as well as herbs such as cilantro, dill and parsley. Continue reading

Technology, traceability the two biggest changes in third generation cucumber farm

By Kelly Daynard (Kingsville) – On the surface, the Cornies’ farm family story sounds a lot like many other farm stories in Ontario  – a son working in a family business that spans several generations.

Yet the path to being a cucumber greenhouse farmer wasn’t a direct one for Jamie Cornies. Although raised in the family cucumber business near Kingsville, Cornies didn’t have much interest in returning home when he graduated from high school. “That was actually the last thing I wanted to do,” he said with a chuckle.

Jamie Cornies is shown in his English cucumber greenhouse

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A taste of farm freshness

Guest blog by Jeanine Moyer

Each seasonal change evokes an awakening of the senses. And nothing beats the arrival of spring and summer to make a person salivate over fresh spring greens and sweet berries.

Freshly harvested carrots

 I never realized how lucky I was to grow up on a farm where we grew most of our own fruit and vegetables until I didn’t have a garden of my own to enjoy. Freshness from the farm just doesn’t compare to what you can find in the grocery store and everything seems to taste so much better when you know how hard you worked to plant, weed, harvest and store the fruits and vegetables on your plate.

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